In the News Archive
Nov/Dec 2006

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Transport Canada launches urban emissions calculator

In mid November, Transport Canada launched the urban transportation emissions calculator - a new online tool to help cities estimate their annual impact on greenhouse gases (GHGs) and criteria air contaminants (e.g. carbon, nitrous and sulphur oxides, volatile organic compounds and particles). The tool calculates both direct (released directly from the vehicle tailpipe) and indirect emissions from passenger, commercial and urban transit vehicles. Indirect emissions are created and released from the production of electricity used by electric vehicles as well as from the production, refining and transportation of transportation fuels.

According to the news release, the urban transportation emissions calculator also allows municipalities to plan and report transport-related emissions in a more standardized manner. It considers the impacts of new technologies and alternative fuels on greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants based on existing technologies and available data. You can find the calculator at http://www.tc.gc.ca/UTEC.

Automated licence plate reader to aid BC police

Following a successful short-term pilot run by the Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team (IMPACT), British Columbia is opting for a new technology to target both traffic violators and stolen vehicles, automatic licence plate recognition (ALPR).

According to the news release, ALPR is a camera and computer database system. Police are assisted by cameras mounted in their cars that capture images of licence plates on vehicles on public highways. The ALPR system reads the licence plate and instantly compares it against the data base in the onboard computer. The data base includes information associated with stolen vehicles and uninsured, unlicensed and prohibited drivers. The data collected onboard is transferred daily to a secure server at the RCMP. If the license plate does not show a violation, the image will be automatically purged from the computer system after three months. If the licence plate shows a violation, the image is retained by police for two years as required by federal law. For more information, contact Cindy Rose, Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, at (250) 356-6961

PEI contracts for ambulance services

In early November 2006, PEI signed a 10-year, $3.9 million contract with Island EMS, beginning April 1, 2007 and extending to March 31, 2017, with a possible annual extension of five additional years. Island EMS (Medavie Blue Cross is its parent company) provides emergency services. Over the next year, Island EMS will establish a centralized, province-wide ambulance service to analyze and determine current ambulance response times and negotiate a collective agreement with CUPE. Over the term of the contract, the company will work with the province to determine what is working well and consider where service enhancements can be considered. According to the news release, This centralization of ambulance dispatch services is already providing improved response times and enhanced coordination with fire departments providing medical first responder services.

As well, Medavie Blue Cross has established ambulance services in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and is in the process of negotiating a contract for a similar province-wide ambulance system in New Brunswick. This effort is resulting in consistent emergency service protocols for the Maritimes and an improved ability to quickly coordinate emergency transportation.

Newfoundland and Labrador builds new fibre optic network

Rogers Communications, Persona Communications and MTS Allstream will build a new fibre optic network to connect Newfoundland and Labrador with Nova Scotia. The consortium will contribute $37 million and the province, $15 million, to build the network. For its investment, Newfoundland and Labrador retains an equity stake in the fibre optic lines that will connect St. John's and Halifax. The new network, expected to be ready by the end of 2007, will provide broadband Internet access to the south coast of Newfoundland and reduce the dependence of the province on its one existing system, run by Bell Aliant.

Saskatchewan improves court houses

The first phase of planned improvements includes:

Detailed planning and design for the construction of new court houses in La Ronge and Meadow Lake will begin immediately. The planning process will cost approximately $1.5 million.

Permanent airport-style, walk-through metal detectors will be installed in Prince Albert Provincial court and in Saskatchewan's largest court houses, located in Saskatoon and Regina. Other security enhancements will be completed in a number of court houses in the province. These renovations will be completed in 2007, and cost up to $3 million.

Renovations to Yorkton Broadcast Place, which houses a Provincial Court, will be completed in 2007, at a cost of $1 million. These renovations will address security and space deficiencies in courtrooms, interview rooms, public waiting areas and the prisoner holding unit.

Planning of renovations for Melfort Provincial Court will begin in 2007-08. As well, detailed design planning of a new court house in Lloydminster will be undertaken in 2008-09. The cost of this work will be about $1 million.

For more information contact Andrew Dinsmore, Justice, Regina at 306-787-8606 or adinsmore@justice.gov.sk.ca.

Sudbury libraries loan energy monitoring devices

To help residents reduce energy usage, in early November the City of Greater Sudbury launched a new library loan program of two energy monitoring devices: (1) kill-a-watt meters and (2) power cost monitors. These devices are available through branches of the Greater Sudbury Public Library (www.sudbury.library.on.ca).

According to the news release, Kill-a-watt meters allow citizens to plug in individual appliances and calculate the amount of electricity being used during a specific time period. The meters will help residents make informed decisions about appliances and products used throughout the home. For example, an individual could use this device to calculate the cost of running an old, second refrigerator in the basement.

Power cost monitors, which are easily attached to the electricity meter of the home, provide information on energy usage through a portable display device that can be placed anywhere in the home. It can show at a glance how much electricity is currently being used in the house, in both dollars and cents, and in kilowatt hours. For instance, as individuals turn on or off electrical appliances, they will be able to see the adjustment right away on the clock-sized portable display. Tests in Ontario and elsewhere have proven that householders who use real-time feedback can reduce electricity use by as much as 5 to 20 percent. For more information, contact Alison Taylor, Communications Officer at 674-4455 ext. 2513.

Alberta provides online access to provincial archives

Through its new online system the Heritage Resource Management Information System (HeRMIS) Alberta is providing free access to the archival descriptions, photographs and library records held by the Provincial Archives of Alberta.

HeRMIS is a searchable, accessible database that currently includes the majority of archives' holdings and will be updated as new material is available. According to the news release, Work is currently underway on HeRMIS to include holdings of other museums and facilities operated by Alberta Community Development. The Archives is one of the first facilities to provide electronic access to the majority of its collection through HeRMIS (hermis.cd.gov.ab.ca).

BC proposes new tendering process for Simon Fraser Bridge twin

The BC Ministry of Transportation is moving forward with a new strategy to deliver the Simon Fraser Bridge twinning project, beginning with an immediate call for proposals to complete the design and engineering work.

The ministry is seeking to have the bridge design complete and ready for tender by early next summer. Construction will begin next summer and is expected to finish in spring 2009.

The project was initially tendered as a design-and-build project to be delivered under one lump-sum contract. However, the rising cost of materials and the demands of the strong economy contributed to the three bids in the competition coming in at more than $15 million above the $32.5-million budget.

After completing a review to determine the most cost-effective way to deliver the project, the ministry is splitting the design and construction components into separate tenders to gain better value through more competition and less risk to bidders. Competition is expected to increase because smaller contracts will be tendered, allowing additional contractors to bid. Also, some work will be done by day labour using local resources, which often provides savings.

The Simon Fraser Bridge was built in 1963 to service the southern approach into Prince George, providing two-lane traffic for Highway 97 across the Fraser River and into the city. An average of 22,000 vehicles per day use the bridge.

City of Moncton and the Université de Moncton partner on sports stadium

The City of Moncton and the Université de Moncton will partner on the construction of a 10,000-seat stadium to host the International Association of Athletics Federations track and field (IAAF) World Junior Championships, which will be held in Moncton in 2010. The stadium will be built on the university campus, near existing sports facilities, and other complementary infrastructure, including parking and accommodations. The university played a key role in helping Moncton win the bid to host the championships and will make its resources and expertise available for the organization of the 2010 IAAF World Junior Championships. The addition of the stadium will be a major asset for Moncton in attracting other events and will be a key resource for the city as it pursues its active living initiatives, encouraging increased youth participation in sport.

Manitoba introduces no sweat policy for apparel purchasing

In late November, the Province of Manitoba announced its new no sweat policy. Clothing and apparel purchased for use by government workers from all provincial departments and agencies will be sourced from responsible manufacturers who do not conduct business with sweatshop practices. According to the news release, on average, the province spends between $1.3 and $1.6 million annually on clothing and apparel.

The new rules will help ensure items are manufactured in compliance with local laws and a set of minimum labour standards including no forced labour, no child labour, freedom of association, health and safety, no employment discrimination and employment standards such as wages, compensation and hours of work. This policy emphasizes education and awareness with compliance based on vendor certification and public disclosure of vendors, and the names and locations of subcontractors.

Manitoba is the first of the provinces/territories to introduce this type of policy. The cities of Vancouver and Toronto have a similar policy; the federal government does not have this type of policy.

Governments fund new eFarm portal for PEI agri-community

The government of Canada, through ACOA, Adapt P.E.I., and PEI Department of Development and Technology funded Future Tech West, an agribusiness-focused rural information technology centre in OLeary, in its development of a new eFarm portal-based Web application to assist the PEI agricultural community.

According to the news release the eFarm portal provides farmers and agriculture specialists access to customized online services from their home computers or laptops in their tractors. Industry professionals from around the globe are just a click away, as are productivity planning tools and other crucial information such as the latest weather conditions or spray and pest alerts. For more information about the eFarm portal service or Future Tech West, visit www.futuretechwest.com.

Williams Lake, BC enters negotiations for new multi-purpose event centre

According to a news release in late November, Williams Lake City Council has authorized staff to enter into negotiations with the Chiefs Development Group of Burnaby, BC for the design, construction, financing and operation of a multi-purpose event centre and arena to serve the Greater Williams Lake area.

A feasibility study for a multi-purpose event centre was completed by International Coliseums Company (Global Entertainment) from May to July of this year with the purpose of assessing the viability of such a facility for the Greater Williams Lake area. In addition to analyzing the local market, the feasibility study provided site recommendations, facility design options, a proposed operating model and financing options.

Following receipt of the study in August, Council authorized a request for qualifications (RFQ) process to select a private sector firm that would be qualified to enter into a partnership with the city and CRD to develop a new arena and events facility in the city. According to Brian Carruthers, General Manager of Community Services, A total of eight firms were provided with the RFQ package and two very competitive submissions were received. Upon careful evaluation by staff and an independent financial analyst, it was determined that the Chiefs Development Group submission provided the best fit for Williams Lake.

Negotiations will commence with the Chiefs Development Group to develop an appropriately sized facility on the Stampede Grounds that would include a new curling rink. Other amenities may also be considered in the design such as dry floor sport space and walking track. However, the final design will be based on maximizing function and maintaining affordability.

The Chiefs Development Group, under principal ownership of Moray Keith, owns the Chilliwack Bruins WHL Hockey Club and constructed, financed and operates the 5000-seat Prospera Centre in partnership with the City of Chilliwack. Negotiations with the Chiefs Development Group are expected to take a number of weeks to complete, at which time a proposed partnership agreement and financing model will be presented to Council for consideration.

The City is aggressively pursuing financial support from both the federal and provincial governments for this project. For more information, contact Brian Carruthers at (250) 392-1763 or mailto:bcarruthers@williamslake.ca.

Millions in newly released tenders help Manitoba highways

Following its announcement of an historic $400-million investment in highway infrastructure, Manitoba began advertising the first tenders in late November 2006. According to the news release, major highway improvement projects include continuation of the upgrading of PTH 75 which will see significant sections reconstructed at an estimated cost of $34.5 million in 2007. Work will also be done on the Trans-Canada Highway and highways 2, 3, 6, 8, 16 and 59. Paving on the northeast Perimeter Highway will also be done. When complete, all sections of the perimeter around Winnipeg will be twinned. Work will also be done on many bridges including structures in Portage and Brandon and over Parks Creek south of Selkirk.

Regina Green Book helps reduce GHG emissions

The City of Regina has released its second edition of its Green Book. It is packed with tips and articles on home and office energy, fuel and vehicle efficiency, and much more to help individuals and businesses find ways to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The book was developed by Regina Green Ribbon Community Climate Change Advisory Committee, which consists of important community leaders who were brought together to investigate options to reduce community greenhouse gas emissions. For more information on Regina Green Book: More $mart Ways to Save, call (306) 777-7000 or e-mail mailto:greenribbon@regina.ca.

BC fleet managers get new tools

One look at the Fraser Basin the area drained by the Fraser River and its 13 main watersheds and you can see why it plays such a pivotal role in British Columbia future. Stretching 1,400 km from the Rockies to Richmond and covering an area the size of Britain or California, the basin boasts one of world most productive salmon river systems. Its vast ecosystem supports 65 species of fish and hundreds of species of birds, mammals, plants and trees. Eighty percent of BC economy is generated in the region. And, perhaps most importantly, for two out of three British Columbians, the Fraser Basin is home. Achieving a sustainable Fraser Basin is perhaps the most critical challenge facing the 2.7 million British Columbians who live, work and play in the basin. In 30 years, its population is expected to reach four million people. Managing this growth in ways that enhance the basin social, economic and environmental health is an enormous challenge, an important responsibility and an urgent priority. (Source: http://www.fraserbasin.bc.ca)

In 1997, government, including First Nations, business and community groups launched the Fraser Basin Council (FBC), a non-profit society founded to find solutions to long-standing BC issues and conflicts, and take advantage of opportunities to advance sustainability in the Fraser River Basin. Over the years, the FBC has established a track record of getting people together to find practical, common sense solutions.

One of those solutions results from a partnership between the FBC, Western Economic Diversification Canada and the BC Ministry of the Environment. Announced in mid-November, the new E3 fleet program includes the first green rating system for vehicle fleets in North America. According to the news release, Canadian public and private sector fleet managers looking to reduce costs, reduce their impact on the environment, adopt new technologies, and benchmark their operations against others will now have the tools they need.

Designed by fleet managers for fleet managers, the program provides managers with services and resources to increase fuel efficiency, reduce emissions, manage expenses, incorporate new technologies and use alternative fuels. The E3 fleet system has four components: a green rating guide, a points system for determining just how green fleet is, a third party audit of fleets and the ultimate rating at the bronze, silver, gold, or platinum level.

As part of their membership in the E3 fleet, managers will have access to software-based services that will provide comprehensive reports on fleet performance including:

  • emissions and fuel performance;
  • vehicle utilization and availability;
  • capital asset profile;
  • operational profile;
  • eception reports identifying vehicles that have below average fuel economy, excessive emissions, excessive downtime or are underutilized; and
  • average age of fleet, and analysis of vehicle replacement with best in class vehicles.

Among the E3 fleet charter members are Auto-Gas Propane, University of BC, BC Hydro, District of Maple Ridge, Enbridge, Township of Langley, the cities of Kelowna, Coquitlam, North Vancouver, Vancouver, Whistler, Williams Lake and Hamilton, Novex Courier as well as the BC Ministry of Environment. These charter members operate more than 15,000 vehicles.

The rating of fleets will be on a points-based system related to: fleet action plan, training and awareness, idling reduction, vehicle purchasing, fuel data management, operations and maintenance, trip and route planning, utilization management, fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas performance.

As one of the charter members of the program, the City of North Vancouver has already seen significant improvements in fleet performance.

Vancouver has also taken several steps to improve the environmental performance of its fleet. It has introduced hybrid gas-electric vehicles; implemented bio-diesel strategies; and trained operators on fuel efficiency. It is looking at the procurement of hybrid garbage trucks and other initiatives.

For more information about the E3 fleet program, contact Jim Vanderwal at 604-488-5359 or mailto:info@E3fleet.com.

BC supports developing the hydrogen bus

In mid-November, British Columbia committed $10 million to the first phase of developing the world first fleet of hydrogen buses, supporting the Hydrogen Highway project.

According to the news release, BC Transit, the provincial crown corporation charged with delivering public transit throughout British Columbia outside Greater Vancouver, will issue a request for proposals that calls for the development of a prototype hydrogen fuel cell bus for commercial use. The ultimate goal of the project is to demonstrate for the first time the integration of hydrogen fuel cell buses into the regular operational service of an urban transit system, allowing monitoring of operations, maintenance and fuelling over a sustained period.

Hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles produce no smog-creating emissions, and no greenhouse gas emissions, and can be twice as efficient as internal combustion engines. Life cycle costs for fuel cell buses once they become commercially available are expected to be lower than existing internal combustion engine technology. These buses will reinforce British Columbia commitment to hydrogen and fuel cell development as a zero-emission transportation solution.

Penticton Great Toilet Rebate program reaps water savings

Eight months ago, the City of Penticton, BC launched a pilot project to determine the economic and environmental benefits of retrofitting 200 homes and businesses with new ultra low flow toilets. The key goal of the initiative was to reduce city-wide water waste by at least 1 million litres per year.

The estimated results from the data compiled during the Great Toilet Rebate indicate a reduction of annual water and waste-water consumption of more than 3.3 million litres (Central Mortgage and Housing Canada states an average of five flushes/day per user). As well, 374 toilets were recycled to the Campbell Mountain Landfill, where eventually they will be crushed and used along with other material for building on-site roadways.

According to the news release, in addition to lower water bills, every drop saved provides at least two economic benefits since water is treated twice. Initially source water is treated at the water treatment plant and a second time as waste water at the advanced waste water treatment plant. Therefore, by eliminating the excessive volume of water flushed down the drain, we offset costly treatment expenditures at both these treatment plants. For more information, contact Carolyn Stewart at 250-490-2562.

Dangerous offenders targeted by Saskatchewan public notice website

In late November, the government of Saskatchewan launched a new website that brings together information from throughout the province about high risk offenders. According to the news release, when a Saskatchewan police agency believes that a convicted offender is a high risk to re-offend and that the public should be warned about him or her, it may decide to issue a public disclosure. Public disclosures provide the offender name, a recent photograph and background information. The disclosure encourages members of the public to take reasonable steps to ensure their safety. These web pages display offender information that has already been made public through the police disclosure process, and are an additional way to notify the public about high risk offenders. Only the most serious offenders, who are deemed to present a risk of significant harm are included on the website, www.saskjustice.gov.sk.ca/publicnotification/publicnotification1.shtml.

Montreal partners to go green

A newly created Montreal Green Fund, formed from a partnership between the City of Montreal and the Societe de verdissement du Montreal metropolitain, will help make Montreal a greener city. According to the news release, the fund, managed by the Societe de verdissement du Montreal metropolitain (committed $250,000 to the project over two years), will be used to enhance green spaces and to help the city adapt to climate changes by planting vegetation in an effort to, among other goals, reduce heat islands. Telus, the first private sector company to join the partnership, has committed to investing $1 million over a three-year period.

US Department Of Homeland Security proposes to expand use of vicinity radio frequency identification

Source: ICMA Daily News (October 18, 2006)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in conjunction with the Department of State's proposed rulemaking on the new PASSport card, announced that it proposes to expand the use of vicinity radio frequency identification (RFID) technology at US ports of entry. The vicinity RFID technology, to be compatible with the PASSport card, would allow a travel document to be read from several feet as a vehicle approaches inspection. The PASSport card, part of the People Access Security Service (PASS) System, is designed to meet the specific requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) for US citizens crossing US borders by land or sea.

WHTI is the US government's plan to implement a provision of the Intelligence Reform Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which requires citizens of the United States, Canada, the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda and Mexico to have a passport or other designated document that establishes the bearer's identity and nationality to enter or re-enter the United States. The proposal to expand the use of vicinity RFID technology is another step in the US government's layered plan to enhance our nation's security, ensure the integrity of our immigration system, facilitate the flow of legitimate travel and trade, and protect the privacy of our citizens and visitors.

To protect the privacy of Americans who opt to use the PASSport card, no personal information will be stored or transmitted on the RFID chip on the card. The technology will transmit only a number between the card and the reader, which will be matched against a DHS database. While no personally identifiable information will be transmitted, DHS is taking steps to help ensure that this number cannot be intercepted during transmission to an authorized reader at a port of entry.

The proposed PASSport card would serve as an alternative to a traditional passport book for use by US citizens who cross the land borders and travel on cruises to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Frequent border crossers would benefit most readily from this new limited-use PASSport card. It would provide evidence of identity and citizenship, would be convenient to carry and would cost less than the traditional passport book. US citizens would be able to apply for the PASSport card using the same forms and procedures as currently exist for the PASSport book.

The proposed regulations on the PASSport card are available for public viewing and comment at the Regulations website (Regulations.gov) for a 60 day comment period. For more information, visit the Department of Homeland Security website or Travel Section of US Department of State.

Kingston uses voting technology to improve accessibility to the election

For the first time in Kingston, Ontario electoral history, touch screen voting machines were used at the first two advance voting days scheduled in November for the November municipal election. Traditional ballots were used for the third advance voting day and on the final voting day.

According to the news release, Municipal election officials said that using the touch screen voting machines is easy and efficient and helps support the needs of visually impaired electors. Ballot cards were provided by election officials, who then inserted the card into the machine. The ballot was then displayed for the elector. When the official left the polling machine, the elector was able to vote for his/her selected candidate by the touch of a finger on the screen.

For visually impaired electors, the print on the touch screen can be enlarged and, for blind electors, an ear-piece with a key pad similar to a telephone key pad is used. When the ballot is cast, the machine makes a sound to alert the election worker who can assist the elector out of the voting location.

Kingston municipal election officials also took other steps to improve accessibility including:

  • using a magnifier page on advance voting day 3 and final voting day;
  • ensuring all voting locations are accessible; designating the entire voting location, including parking lots, as the poll location;
  • ensuring adequate lighting around voting locations in remote places;
  • ensuring that doors are easily opened by people with mobility issues;
  • increasing staff on final voting day; and
  • free transportation by Kingston access bus.

Ontario contracts for smart payment transit card

In October 2006, Ontario announced that it has contracted Accenture, a management consulting and technology services company, to design and implement the smart card (payment card) that commuters from all over the Greater Toronto area would use to access all the various transit systems stretching from Hamilton to Oshawa, with the exception of the Toronto Transit Commission. The contract spans 10 years and is valued at $250 million.

Greater Vancouver Regional District Board approves new electronics waste management strategy

In late October, the Greater Vancouver Regional District Board (GVRD) approved the banning of electronics at regional transfer and disposal facilities. According to the news release, The ban affects electronics designated under the Provincial Recycling Regulation, and will be co-ordinated with the Electronics Industry Stewardship Program. The Recycling Regulation requires the electronics industry to have a stewardship program in place for computers, monitors, laptops, desktop printers and televisions by August 2007. The strategy will be phased in over the next 14 months, and include public education, and graduated enforcement, with full enforcement beginning January 1, 2008. In the interim, information on opportunities to recycle electronics is available from the Recycling Council of B.C. at 604-732-9253.

Red Deer enhances Web-mapping site

In late October, information such as population, gender, age, people with disabilities and housing census data became available on the City of Red Deer interactive, online mapping tool, Web Map. Check out http://www.reddeer.ca and click on Web Map. The website provides a visual tool for citizens, and the information from a variety of sources is easy to find and understand through symbols, colour-coding and labels. On Web Map you can find information on:

  • neighbourhoods
  • street addresses
  • areas and sites of interest
  • trail systems
  • waste collection schedules
  • assessed property values
  • transit routes
  • land use bylaws, zoning districts and constraints
  • aerial photos
  • business information.

P3 health centre opens in Vancouver

On October 24, the Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre, a major health public-private partnership, opened as part of Vancouver General Hospital. The world-class out-patient care facility (valued at approximately $95-million) will provide services to over 600,000 patients annually. The services include diagnostic testing, specialist visits and clinic visits.

According to the news release, this is British Columbia first major health facility to be completed as a public-private partnership, through an agreement between Vancouver Coastal Health and Access Health Vancouver. Vancouver Coastal Health will maintain ownership, control and decision making over the site and facility and will be responsible for the delivery of all health-care services. The private partner, Access Health Vancouver, assumed responsibility for the financing, design, construction, facility management and maintenance.


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